Forensic Reality

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Like many people, I am really interested in media about crime. Whether it be books, movies or television shows, I am hooked. I even did my undergrad degree in Criminology. Working as a social worker with clients that are moving in and out of the forensic system, plus having my own “lived experience” of addiction, has given me a birds eye view of different aspects of criminology. This forensic front row seat has taught me many lessons that the average consumer wouldn’t know.

  1. Teeth: The one thing that really irks me about the majority of these shows is their teeth. Whether it be Sons of Anarchy, Prison Break or Law and Order: all of their teeth are so perfectly straight and white. In reality, there is no one in jail with gorgeous teeth, let alone perfect porcelain veneers. Well, maybe only Roxy Jacenko’s husband. But lets face it, the blue collar crims are the only ones that really get any jail time. Steal some poor elderly couple’s life savings and you can put on Probation; whereas, break and enter someone’s home and you get jail time. Perhaps one of the few exceptions to this is the show “Orange is the New Black”. There are some seriously good examples of meth mouths in this show.
  2. Normality: different people have different ideas of normality. Recently, I was accompanying a client to the local courthouse. As you enter the court house there is a security guard that checks your bags and observes you going through a scanner. Before each person moves through the scanner they are asked to declare any items in their possession that may be deemed dangerous. The man before me in line politely put his hat on the counter and carefully filled it with various paraphenalia that was residing in his pocket. This included: 2 screwdrivers, a small hammer, a pocket knife, 2 syringes, 2 lighters, a spoon and a chisel. To his credit, the security guard didn’t bat an eyelid and gave him back everything on his departure.
  3. Backhanded Compliments: I get some very colourful feedback from clients. And whilst I can’t include many of the comments on my resume, I like to concentrate on the sentiment behind what they say. Talking to a client about a recent car accident I had, he shook his head and tutted “I am not sure why these bad things happen to you, after all, you are the maddest cunt eva!” Another time, I was having a session with an Aboriginal girl who told me that she liked hanging out with me because I was not “too white” but I also “didn’t try too hard to be black!”
  4. Therapeutic Rapport: No matter how many qualifications I earn, or clinical interventions I use with clients, there is one consistent thing that works with every client: genuine connection. Before every client I do a grounding activity where I do a little prayer/meditation to focus on forming a genuine connection with the client. I ask to work on their goals, not mine. I try to stay grounded and simply be with the client in their space, where they are emotionally at. I acknowledge different feelings and triggers that I have and try to respond rather than react from that place. My clients have been through a lot and subsequently have a really sensitive bullshit detector. If they sense any bullshit they immediately shut down.
  5. Deserving Victim: As I work primarily with people that have addiction issues, I understand that no one is going to donate anything to my clients. People see addiction as a moral failing, rather than a medical problem. The interesting thing is that many of my clients are homeless and/or victims of domestic violence. The community seems more than happy to donate money, goods, time and compassion to homeless people and victims of DV. There doesn’t seem to be a strong understanding that there is a significant link between various social issues to addiction: crime, domestic violence, mental health, poverty, disability, lack of education and homelessness.
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